Protect Your Bathroom Countertops

For decades, marble and granite have been the go-to material for bathroom countertops. However, in recent years, design options have grown to include sealed wood or concrete, laminates and solid surface materials, like quartzite and quartz. When done correctly, unique materials in bathrooms can add a very high-end designer feel. When in doubt, stick with the classics: marble, granite, and more recently a popular choice, quartz.

The one thing ALL countertop materials have in common is the need for protection from hot irons (curling irons, wands, straighteners, etc). There are countless blog post “life hacks” that recommend silicone pot holders to protect your counters, there are even silicone mats specially designed for hot tools. While practical, this solution is not always the most attractive.

Enter: the new “life hack” designed to protect your countertops, in a discreet and stylish way. A glass tile hot tools rest. It’s the easiest DIY you’ll ever do and under $10.

You’ll need:

MSI Arctic Ice 6 in. x 12 in. Glass Wall Tile
Everbilt 3/4 in. Heavy-Duty Self-Adhesive Felt Pads







Take the tile, flip it over, put a felt pad in all four corners (about 1 inch in) and Voilà! You have a sleek, stylish place to rest any hot tool your little heart desires. I made mine about 5 years ago, and it was easily the best $10 I’ve ever spent. Protects my countertops, gives me a designated place to rest my hot tools and is hardly noticeable. Enjoy!

AJ’s Favorite Things

Oprah’s Favorite Things list came out yesterday. All of the items were luxurious and beautiful. But, the comment section was filled with angry people, who felt the items were far too expensive, and not affordable or realistic gift suggestions. After going back through the list, I came to the conclusion: I’d have to agree. The items are mostly luxury, with the only items priced around $20, being straws and stationary.

I am gift-giver by nature. I absolutely love to find the perfect present for someone, surprise a friend with a little treat, or give a little lagniappe to clients and friends. I have a large family, so Christmas has always been tricky… I want to give everyone something thoughtful and special, useful or fun – but don’t always have the budget for higher priced gifts. So I get creative, and create my own version of luxury. Luxury is defined as: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Well, I’d say, if you can afford to give a gift at all, that in and of itself is a state of great comfort and extravagant living. The ability to give, even if it’s just our time, is a luxury. Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve given to friends, have been handmade gifts I created myself. A gift, especially one handmade, is a luxury item.

In the spirit of looking at luxury a little differently, I’ve decided to share my favorite things. Some are pricey, some only a few dollars, but all items are things I’ve either given as gifts, absolutely adore and/or use myself. My friends call me AJ, and this is a list of my favorite things.


Mexican Blanket – $8.95 on Amols.comBandless Ear Mitts – $18.96 on Amazon.comisotoner Women’s Spandex Touchscreen Cold Weather Gloves with Warm Fleece Lining and Chevron Details – $47.00 on

Women’s Cozy Neck Pullover – $29.99 on

Blanket Scarf – $14.89 on


Utter Nonsense Naughty Edition (Family-Edition available) – $13.19 on

Women’s Thermal-Knit Sleep Leggings (with coordinating pajamas for the whole gamily) – $19.99 on

Click Clack Lumberjack – $19.54 on

Wooden Tic Tac Toe Game – $11.00 on


Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – $25.00 on

Rose Quartz Face Roller – $22.77 on

Living Proof Perfect hair Day™ Dry Shampoo – $23.00 at

T3 Twirl Convertible 1.25″ Curling Iron – $185.00 on

Tortoise Backcomber – $2.29 on

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads – $9.02 at


St. Tropez 6.7 oz Express Mousse Set – $55.00 on


Clarity Clutch Small – $48.00 on

Leather Travel Case Set – $110.00 on

Ambeur 3-piece luggage set – $385.00 on

Light Cotton Robe – $24.99 on

S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Double Wall, 25 oz (holds an entire bottle of wine) – $45.00 on

Cosmos ® 8 Pcs Non-Woven Dual Drawstring Shoe Bags with Clear View Window for Travel Carrying – $11.97 on

YETI Rambler 20oz Tumbler – $29.99 on


Charleston Rice Beads, Bracelet – $32.00 on

GiGi Uber Clutch – $170.00 on

KREWE Sunglasses, Tupelo 24K – $215.00 on

Wide-brim Fedora Hat – $16.45 on

SPANX Faux Leather Moto Leggings – $110.00 on

Non-Slip Velvet Hangers (100 Pack) – $42.99 at


100% Cotton Classic White Tea Towels with Blue Stripes, Qty 13 – $16.99 on


Rub-a-Way Bar Stainless Steel Odor Absorber – $8.99 on

Royal Casa Cheese Markers Set – $14.95 on

Hurbo 2 Tier Stainless Steel Dish Rack Basics Dish Plastic Drainer Dryer Tray Holder Organizer – $30.99 on

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion, hardcover – $16.96 on

Enamelware Coffee Mugs (Set of 4) Grey Marble – $36.99 on


Oh! Nuts, Large Roasted Nut Variety Fresh Assortment Tray – $26.95 on

Himalayan Salt Shot Glasses, Set of 4 – $15.95 on

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea – $5.99 on (also available at most grocery stores)

Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries – $13.95 on (or Fresh Market)

Oak Grove Jambalaya Mix – $2.30 on

Louis-Sherry 12-piece Tin – $35.00 on

Sparkling Rosé Bears – $8.50 on

TECH GADGETS Mount, Maxboost (2 Pack) Universal Air Vent Magnetic Phone Car Mounts Holder – $7.90 on


Phone Tripod, UBeesize Portable and Adjustable Camera Stand Holder – $13.98 on

Compatible Headphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on

Compatible Heahphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on


Antique Reproduction Iron Mermaid Bottle Opener Rust – $5.97 on

Oriental Furniture 24″ Floral Blue & White Porcelain Umbrella Stand – $110.16 at

Black & Gold Ice Bucket – $46.70 on

Galvanized Cheers Tub – $29.74 on

The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude, hardcover – $23.79 on

Aroma Bakeware Marble Cheese Board Slicer – $19.99 on


Wool Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener – $9.95 on

Fun Size Burlap Wrapped Bouquet – $49.00 on

BAGGU Standard Reusable Shopping Bag – $10.00 on

Set of 8 Stainless Steel Straws – $7.99 on


Lists For Togetherness: Journaling Inspiration to Deepen Connections with Your Loved Ones, hardcover – $11.87 on

LOVE IS PROJECT | Skinny Love Bracelet – $24.99 on

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, paperback – $11.55 on

Winnie Earring – $32.00 on


ZippyPaws, Monkeys ‘n Bananas, Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy – $9.99 on Amazon.comFriendship Collars – $35.00 on

Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Toy Puzzle – $9.50 on


Box Fox | Merry Merry – $34.00 on

Bowling Pin Electric Wine Opener – $29.99 on

Chopstick Pens – $14.95 on

Talking Tables Prosecco Pong – $19.66 on

How to have a perfectly timed Thanksgiving


  • Plan your menu (including the snacks/appetizer items)
  • Plan guest sleeping arrangements
  • Stock up on items such as paper towels, aluminum foil, tupperware containers for leftovers, etc.


  • Finalize guest list
  • Make room in the refrigerator
  • Shop, shop, shop! – the earlier you can do your shopping, the better, plus you avoid crowds and ensure your items are in-stock AND remember the wine
  • Deep clean your house – hire a professional service for this part (and have them change all guest bed linens)


  • Prepare guest rooms
  • Stock all bathrooms – make sure each one is properly outfitted with a full hand soap, lotion, hand towels, toilet paper and other essentials. Include extra items in guest baths, like shampoo/conditioner, washcloths, bath towels
  • Wash all serving dishes or anything that may have been gathering dust


  • Place turkey in refrigerator to begin thawing
  • Make all pies and desserts
  • Arrange seasonal florals or have centerpieces delivered
  • Make any breakfast items for Thanksgiving Day


  • Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate
  • Prepare and bake casseroles/sides (green bean, sweet potato, etc.)
  • Refresh the house – you’ve already had your deep clean, this is a spot clean and last minute touch up job 
  • Set the table
  • Soak your turkey in brine overnight


  • Wake up early and brew a pot of coffee – this should be refreshed all day
  • Rinse your turnkey of brine and pat dry
  • Let sit at room temperature for one hour
  • Place turkey in oven to begin cooking – if your turkey takes 3 hours to roast, allow yourself at least 1 extra hour of cooking and cooling time


  • Check temperature of turkey – begin checking after 2 hours of cooking
  • Make and arrange appetizers
  • Make mashed potatoes
  • Prepare all side dishes to be warmed in the oven
  • Once internal temperature of turkey is reached (180 degrees F in thigh and 165 degrees F in breast), remove from oven and let rest


  • Let turkey rest for 30 minutes
  • Place side dishes in oven to be warmed
  • Make the gravy
  • Warm all side dishes in the oven, including rolls
  • Carve the turkey
  • Arrange all dishes on table or buffet-style
  • Enjoy!


Stress-Free Travel Tips

While this is a home-focused blog… all of us do at least some, if not a lot of traveling. With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d share my Top Travel Tips to make planning, packing, travel and unpacking – wayyy less stressful and help bring the comforts of home along for the ride!

TRAVEL MUST HAVES | Don’t leave home without

  • Hard-shell Suitcase – for any CHECKED luggage, you can’t find a better suitcase than a hard-shell. These can take a beating and have built in compartments that traditional suitcases do not.
  • Packing Cubes – these transform your suitcase into an organized, travel dresser and keep your suitcase from becoming a tangled up mess.
  • Shoe Bags with Window – keep the contents of your suitcase clean, and free from any shoe-contact. I’ve also found that these fit pretty much any type of shoe, from sneakers and heels, to bulkier footwear, like boots.
  • Jewelry Holder/Organizer – 100% necessity. Keeps your jewelry organized, visible and safe. Highly recommend traveling with it in your carry-on bag.
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag – after more experimenting than I’d care to admit, I finally found the perfect toiletry bag. This bag keeps everything upright and organized, and fits, literally EVERYTHING. It’s compact enough to fit neatly into just about any suitcase or travel bag, and gives you easy, visible access to all of your toiletries once you arrive at your destination.
  • Travel-sized Products – it may sound silly, but spend the extra money up front to purchase the mini/travel-sized versions of your everyday products. It’s so much easier to identify what’s what when you can instantly recognize your shampoo from your body lotion. If you absolutely CAN’T find a mini-version, or you have a product that is hella expensive – I recommend travel bottles that are similar in shape/size to the originals and labeling them with a typed label of the exact product name. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have the exact name, when you go to reach for an item and can’t remember which “Shampoo” you actually put in the bottle. ULTA, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target are all fantastic resources for travel-sized products
  • Foldable Eco-tote – this is a little life hack I only discovered a couple of years ago. I randomly threw one into my suitcase for a holiday trip one year, and it came in handy so many times – I now never travel without one.
  • Lightweight Robe – while most hotels provide robes, they are usually bulky and oversized, and not very practical to wear while getting ready. A lightweight robe, that takes up almost NO room to pack, is a game changer.
  • Microfiber Hair Towel Turban – I don’t know if you’re like me, but microfiber hair towels pretty much revolutionized my life. If you are someone who uses two full-sized towels whenever showering and washed your hair, allow me to change your life. Not only does the lightweight, microfiber towel turban stay put (because of the little elastic loop holding it in place), it also reduces drying time and isn’t insanely heavy, like a full-size bath towel. I discovered these gems in college and never looked back.

CARRY ON ITEMS | What to keep on your person

When packing for a trip, consider your carry-ons your “if I landed and my bag was missing for a day or two I wouldn’t burst into tears” kit. I always have a backpack (for items I don’t need at the ready, but will not be checked) and shoulder tote (for items I’ll want easily accessible in the airport/on the plane). Below is how and what I pack in each.

  • Backpack – should be able to fit your computer, but small enough to comfortably carry and fit under the seat in front of you
  • Computer, electronics and chargers – I typically corral similar, small items into their own pouches. It helps keep everything organized and easy to find. These travel pouches by Truffle, are PERFECT.
  • Travel wallet – this is where I keep my insurance cards, checkbook, and any additional important “wallet” items (basically anything that isn’t your ID, credit card or cash)
  • Prescriptions/medications – including contact lenses/glasses
  • Small notebook and pens – inspiration almost always seems to strike me on flights
  • Cosmetics – if you’re like me, your makeup ain’t cheap – don’t let it out of your sight. I also carry on my face products (i.e. Retin-A, etc.)
  • Medium-sized Tote (with zipper) – should be comfortable to carry, and sized to fit next to your backpack, under the seat in front of you
  • Card Wallet – super slim card wallet to hold your ID, credit card, and cash (don’t worry.. your other items are in your travel wallet)
  • Thin, cozy pashmina/scarf – should be thin enough to roll into a ball about the size of a dollar bill (or smaller) and large enough to double as a little blanket on the plane
  • Water bottle – either a refillable one for after your through security, or purchase a big bottle for $8 at the kiosk near your gate. Stay hydrated.
  • Gum – helps with popping ears (and if you happen to have a slightly stinky neighbor in-flight)
  • Unscented Hand Sanitizer – just trust me
  • Face towelettes – so nice to wipe away the “plane-feel” right after you land
  • Set of headphones – what kind, are up to you (just make sure they’re fully charged, if that’s required)
  • Earplugs and eye mask (for longer flights)

SAVE SOME SPACE | What to leave behind

  • Hairdryer – almost everywhere you go will have one
  • Multiple handbags/clutchesyou only need one fabulous and versatile bag for just about any trip. I prefer a cross-body with an adjustable/removable strap, turning your bag into a cross-body purse by day, and simple clutch by night. Gigi New York is my go-to. They’re classic, yet always on trend.
  • Multiple pairs of sunglasses – pick your favorite pair and leave the rest at home
  • Different shoes for every single outfit – pick a dressy, a comfy (maybe a stylish sneaker you can also knock out a quick workout in or wear in the event of a lot of walking) and a daytime pair (plus maybe some slipper socks/very light slippers for when you’re not out and about) and leave the rest at home. PRO TIP: Wear your heaviest/most bulky shoes on the plane when checking a bag to save on weight and packing room. 


Let me know what your favorite travel tips are in the comments below!



Top Trick-or-Treat Tips for Kids

Plan a route

Use the buddy system

Stay on the sidewalk

Wear comfortable shoes – while Cinderella may have worn glass slippers, save the dress-up heels for home and make sure your kids have on their favorite sneakers.

Stay well-lit

Make sure all costumes are short – princess dresses or long, flowing capes can be problematic, especially in the dark. Make sure your child’s costume hits a slightly above the ankle to avoid any TRIP-or-treat.

Avoid masks – opt for face-paint instead. It’s much more breathable and won’t interfere with your child’s vision.

Use flexible/soft props – Captain America’s shield may be made from vibranium and proto-adamantium alloy, but a foam look-a-like will make for a much safer prop choice. Look for props made of foam, flexible plastics or other soft materials.

Be mindful of the candy you hand out – with so many allergies in children these days, a lot of neighborhoods are opting for “candy-alternative” treats to give out to those who aren’t able to enjoy candy. There’s also the Teal Pumpkin Project 

Check your child’s candy – make sure to throw out any opened or partially opened candy, as well as, anything that appears to be homemade (unless you know and trust the the family giving out homemade treats extremely well).

Let your candy-free kids enjoy the fun of trick-or-treat – while skipping the sugar rush. Switch Witch can be a fantastic and fun alternative to a sack full of candy. Originally created by a mom, whose daughter was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, to allow her daughter to enjoy the Halloween season. Think Elf on the Shelf, but Halloween edition.

What exactly is the Legend of the Switch Witch? Every year, in the beginning of October, many many young Switch Witches say goodbye to their parents, hop in their flying cauldrons, and go visit kids (like yours!) for a long sleepover play date! During the weeks leading up to Halloween, kids should be a kind host to their own Switch Witch. In exchange for a nice visit, your child’s Switch Witch (wink! wink!) will turn some of the collected Halloween candy in to a gift! Maybe your child’s gift will be a new book, a toy, sporting gear, a new backpack, or even a gift certificate for a special outing with a grownup they love. Switch Witches are very clever and imaginative – yours will know just what your child would love for a gift! Then off they all fly – back home to their own families – until next Halloween when they will return to visit again! (exert from SwitchWitch FAQ).


Ketchup.. like you’ve never seen!

Would you like to receive monthly real estate updates about your neighborhood, school district or otherwise? If so, click the link at the bottom to sign up for Market Ketchup!

Market Ketchup is a monthly market trend reports sent straight to you. Compiled using the most recent real estate data, this service provides easy-to-understand diagrams illustrating key market statistics.

Clients can sign-up according to: city, subdivision, zip code or school name.

Your monthly report will help you to stay up to date on your local real estate trends and market conditions. Compiled using the most recent data for your area, Market Ketchup offers an easy-to-understand illustration of key statistics and calculations that should be kept in mind when buying or selling real estate.



Have additional questions? Contact me for more information.

Is the Atlanta Real Estate Market cooling?

The short answer is: Yes – and it’s a GREAT thing!

Let’s break down why, and review what it means for a market to be HOT, COLD or NEUTRAL.

HOT MARKET  aka “Seller’s Market”

This is the best financial market for a home owner to SELL, because there are more buyers than there are homes available to purchase.

What does this mean? Buyers are often willing to pay MORE than list price and homes sell quickly. In an EXTREMELY HOT market, sellers may be able to insist buyers waive inspections/appraisals (Note: not a good idea for the buyer). Although unless written into the Purchase & Sales Agreement, federal law states sellers must give a buyer 10 days to inspect for lead paint.

Signs of a HOT/Seller’s Market

  • Low inventory as compared to previous months/years
  • Fewer than 6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sales prices are lower than active listing prices
  • More buyers are purchasing, resulting in higher number of closed sales
  • Median sales prices are increasing
  • Real estate advertising is low
  • For Sale signs are only up for a few days before a pending or sold sign is attached

COLD MARKET aka “Buyer’s Market”

This is the best financial market for a buyer to BUY, because there are more homes than there are buyers with the ability to purchase.

What does this mean? Buyers have more homes to choose from, increasing the odds that they will find the “perfect” home. Serious sellers are often willing to negotiate, so buyers can probably purchase a home for below list price, and sellers might be willing to include “buyer incentives” like paying for some or all closing costs. This is a more relaxed and easy experience for buyers.

Signs of a COLD/Buyer’s Market

  • High inventory as compared to previous months/years
  • More than 6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sales prices are higher than active listing prices
  • Fewer buyers are purchasing, resulting in lower number of closed sales
  • Median sales prices are declining
  • Real estate advertising is high
  • For Sale signs are staying up longer


This is when the market is considered balanced. Interest rates are affordable and the number of buyers and sellers are evenly matched. There aren’t as many extreme changes in home value. Neutral markets have become less common in recent years, but were common prior to the real estate crashes.

Signs of a Neutral Market

  • Steady inventory as compared to previous steady months/years
  • 3-6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sale prices are close to active listing prices
  • Sales numbers have stabilized
  • Median sales prices are level
  • Real estate advertising is consistent
  • For Sale signs are replaced with pending or sold signs within 30-45 days

Atlanta has recently been a HOT market. Competition for the very low inventory on the market was fierce, with bidding wars artificially driving home prices up. Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices, in hopes of desperate buyers being willing to overpay so as not to lose out on purchasing the home. Meaning home/contract prices were often exceeding the actual value of the home, resulting in discrepancies between appraised value and contract price. While a hot market is typically considered a good thing, they can also be the most brutal and frustrating time to buy and/or sell a home.

The cooling we are seeing is really the market evening itself back out. Which means price cuts. Most price cuts are being found in the most expensive price points and in markets where pricing has outrun home values *ahem, Atlanta*.

This DOESN’T mean home values have depreciated or will soon depreciate. In fact, home values will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months (at double their historic rate). It DOES mean seller’s should be more conservative when pricing their home, especially in higher price points.

To Summarize

Homes are not depreciating. If you want to sell your home quickly and with less headache,  pricing it correctly from the beginning (and using a good REALTOR) is the best strategy.

**If you live in the Greater Atlanta area and are interested in learning the current value of your home, contact me! I am happy to provide you with a price analysis.**

Sources: The Balance, Keeping Matters CurrentZillow

Share a Story: New Story

Have you experienced an uncomfortable night’s sleep? Perhaps one where you tossed and turned? Well, imagine having to stand up all night, sleeping against the wall while sewage ran across your floor boards, before taking on the new day at school or work.

Sotheby’s International Realty® is proud to partner with New Story, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming dangerous living environments into communities of safe, sustainable homes.

CLICK HERE to check out the latest video:

Each home costs approximately $6,500, and 100 percent of the donations collected to go toward developing these neighborhoods. Donors have the ability to see the family they’re sponsoring, along with supplies and costs their donation is covering.

Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty is passionate about this partnership, and we’re enthusiastic about growing our efforts to help this organization grow! To date, we have raise more than $100,000 – that’s 15 houses!

We are all fortunate to have roofs over our heads and a place to call home, something that is such a fundamental necessity that it’s hard to imagine life any other way. Unfortunately, more than 1 billion people live in destitute poverty, raising families in tents in dangerous communities, living each day on survival mode. Through New Story, we have the power to make a difference by providing a safe place to call home.

For more information, please visit


Weekly Motivational and Productive Sales Meetings

You might not think that the way a real estate company conducts its weekly sales meetings would make any difference to someone selling a property. But, you’d be wrong.

Every Tuesday, each of our four offices located throughout the Metro Atlanta area host a weekly sales meeting, where our sales associates review new properties on the market, share buyer needs and discuss local and national market conditions. In addition, we hear from industry experts and real estate service providers (like so that we can deliver extraordinary service in our ever-changing market. Our sales meetings allow us to take the extra steps needed to ensure that your experience with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty is positive and successful:

At our sales meetings, we:

  • Review new listings
  • Announce under contract listings
  • Review broker open houses
  • Discuss upcoming listings and buyer needs
  • Study local and national market conditions and statistics
  • Hear presentations from industry professionals
  • Discuss new developments and initiatives in Metro Atlanta
  • Host a marketing minute that includes updates for advertising homes
  • Review mortgage and lender rates, changes and news
  • Discuss contract changes and updates

Our 430 real estate professionals are dedicated to delivering first-rate service. We stay informed so we can keep you informed.

Seller’s Workshop

EXCITING NEWS!! Since the launching of my Homebuyer’s Workshops, I’ve been thinking more and more about the other side of the transaction, and how Seller clients could benefit from a similar workshop.

INTRODUCING: The SELLER’S WORKSHOP | Hosted by: Allison Jackson, REALTOR with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and guest speaker Robyn Sonis with Campbell & Brannon Real Estate Attorneys at Law.

Future home sellers will learn all there is to know about the current market, how to get your home ready to sell, and most importantly, what to do to get your home SOLD!

Workshops will be held twice a year, every August and February.